Walter invited us over, he wanted to see us before
he dies. He's 86 with stage five liver cancer
now metastisized to all the minor giblets.
He's had days to live for three months now.
He started fast but faded quickly, the pain
the medicine he didn't take to stay lucid
wincing shut his thoughts, side-tracking
subjects into disconnections, wincing open
his crystalline awareness of his confusion.
He always liked me, my wife his second-cousin
removed or whatever but he her uncle in practice,
Walter, who likes me, we recognize we're
Brothers in Bullshit. He spooked for Langley
during the Cold War's Greatest Hits,
we never knew doing what. Today he said he conducted
interrogations, he winced, he open closed
opened his mouth, he looked at me, not my wife
not her brother, focused, said he deserves this pain,
winced, winked, lucid, at me, changed subject,
winced to pretend to my wife and brother-in-law
a dying cancer patient's incoherent babble.
Did I see what I saw, hear what I heard? Yes,
he whispered when I leaned down to say goodbye.
I'll tell you more if I see you again, he said.